Relentless 2021, Lenient 2022

18 November 2021

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  1. Don’t suck up 2022 being the same as 2021
  2. Work out what’s going to change
  3. Then decide on the action you’re going to take
  4. And know who's going to hold you accountable.

A plan for the next 12 months of more-of-the-same

I sat down with a business owner yesterday. There was a look of utter exhaustion on their face, mixed with some optimism that they’re through the worst of a relentless 24 months. They felt like they had been on this hamster wheel, running as fast as they could but staying still.

They had identified that they needed to jump off the wheel, but couldn’t find the time. To get off, they needed to change somethings. But, with supply chain issues and struggling to find staff it felt impossible.

They’re right. It’s bloody difficult. We’ve felt it ourselves at Convex (and it damn near caused me to burn out). Difficult doesn’t mean impossible though. Finding space to get off that hamster wheel is the only thing which will make 2022 different from 2021 (or 2020…).

For the customer, it was about next year being a year of leniency, rather than a year of relentless hustle.

That meant two things. A level of distance from the business (work/life balance anyone?). That felt abstract for him though and wasn’t something he could hold onto. So, the second thing he made it mean was a day off per week.

The day off per week could only be achieved one way – through pushing more responsibility to his team.

…which comes with massive risk.

What if they drop the ball? What if they aren’t up to it? What if they stop doing what they do now? I replied with “What if what if what if. Excuse excuse excuse.”. This was probably a little harsh from me, and not my finest moment…but there’s some truth in it.

Hard isn’t impossible. It’s just how we tackle it…. here’s what we did:

  1. Created a decision-making loop. For this customer, that involves meeting with me weekly. For you it could be the same, or someone else holding you accountable. It’s critical because you can’t see everything (I can’t, so have a formal board structure to keep accountability at Convex).
  2. Understood what they could see.
  3. Asked what was uncertain. What they couldn't foresee.
  4. Actively tried to shift the line between the two – more visibility, less uncertainty.
  5. Rounded out the decision-making loop, with more issues explored from broader perspectives.

Here’s what it looks like:

Using this, we walked around what working four days per week would look like:

  • The business owner finding a hobby so he had something to do other than work
  • Identifying what he could delegate, and what the person he was delegating to could get off their plate
  • Hiring an additional worker to reduce pressure
  • Putting up wages so that they could actually find the mythical new worker
  • Putting up prices so that they could afford the wage increase
  • Changing systems to streamline work (capacity is more than your employees – it’s how they work)
  • Understanding the requirements from the new system, and the short term impact on profitability while the team upskilled on it

So, it’s:

  1. What happened...2021 was relentless
  2. What action are we taking...2022 needs to be lenient
  3. How we’ll take action...through weekly accountability
  4. Which will ensure...we’ve fully explored all aspects of a plan

What’s 2022 got instore for you?

If you’re curious to run through it, I’d love to have a 15 minute video call (with no awkward obligations). Drop me an email and we can work out a time, otherwise book directly into my calendar here.



PS – hey business owner who met with me yesterday…you know who you are – thanks for letting me share this story! Wine coming your way.